Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Country Has Fallen

I just came back from a great trip to Istanbul, where I experienced a rude awakening for the state of my country, and how far we have been set back. It was an eye opening experience that reinforced what I had already known. The battle is lost.

It was the most beautiful few days. I saw the glorious Islamic and Turkish history. I saw the bizarre, slightly surreal, and absolutely captivating juxtaposition of East and West. One minute it feels like London, but turn a corner and you’ve reached Greece, or Abu Dhabi, or Berlin. Mosques will call out for prayer while you wander these streets, and it all feels oddly balanced. It was everything I had dreamt for my country. A melange of our history, our religions, our progress, our future, all meshing together wonderfully.

In all its beauty, it was also a seriously demoralizing trip. Walking around this functional, excellently planned, successful city, I saw a model of what we could have been. A modern, civilized, functional, (and yes, Muslim), state with a developed infrastructure – and a developed democracy. The Turkish nationalist pride is overwhelming, but unlike our unjustified superiority complex, it is valid. Unhappy with Erdogan’s policies, they took to the streets. They understand and internalize democratic choice, and their foundation for all this is their sincere pride and faith in their country’s potential.

Slap in the face #1.

Slap #2 came in the form of checking in with home to catch up on some news. Apparently, as I had left the country all hell broke loose. Sheikh Ahmad Al Assir had declared war on the country. The army lost 18 soldiers. This was our Ain El Remmene bus and I could feel my stomach churn at the thought. War was inevitable.

A fantastic 30 minute documentary ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aafTQf1hdMg) by the guys over at Shi NN (A popular satire show on Al Jadeed TV) put it nicely: “سقط البلد” / The country has fallen.

And fallen it has. We are left with extremists all around; Shiaa, Sunni, Christian. We are left with an unconstitutional parliament. We are left with a country whose institutions torture and abuse its prisoners, suspects, and citizens.

But save for a few heroes like those Shi NN guys, we don’t speak up much. The apathy has evolved into downright fear. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say.

I want to criticize the army, and the ISF, and the parliament, and president and all the wretched power holders. I wanted to say let’s run into the streets, let us change, down with all armed groups, all militias, all your pathetic excuses of political decision makers. But if you do say what you want to, you would risk being held for questioning, being targeted, being bullied. You would be subjected to hate crimes,  or hate speech. Just last week, a tweeter was held for questioning after criticizing the President. Marwa Olleik has fled her city and has been subjected to all sorts of threats and crimes because she is opposing Hezbollah.

How do we expect to move on, if we can’t even vocalize?

And so we have arrived at this point. We are now a police state, where freedoms are repressed, and rights are borderline non existent. We are not functional, we are a farce. We are not going to develop, we have already declined. We will never be Turkey, we will regress until the black hole of sectarianism, corruption and apathy has enveloped us. And we will be left with nothing but our weapons, our martyrs and our allegiances.

We don’t deserve to be proud of our country, our army, our politics, our leaders. We cannot escape our filth and we have reached the end. Put down your slogans, your chants, your dreams, this is defeat. Raise your flag, we’ve lost the battle to develop this country.  

And the war has only just begun.

For a recap on the Human Rights Watch report about ISF crimes click here: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2013/Jun-27/221723-hrw-world-should-act-on-lebanon-police-abuse.ashx#axzz2XPTB26Q6

For the video of the army abusing a suspect, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge70I-UG1zI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

For a one way ticket out, please refer to your nearest embassy.

For  happy feelings, here’s a pretty photo of Istanbul:Image

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Syrian boy wakes up in his family’s tent, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Syrian boy wakes up in his family's tent, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

The look on this little boy’s face simultaneously warmed my heart and broke my heart. “Save the Children” released reports today detailing the horrifying conditions children in Syria are facing. Some are being left to die on the roadside, some are sexually assualted in front of their parents. Reports tell stores of children licking the grass just to get some water..

In the New York Times today, Ninette Kelley, the representative in Lebanon of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) writes a compelling and heartbreaking piece about the state of Syrian refugees. An influx of nearly 1 million refugees (half of which are unregistered) are now in Lebanon. There is a dire need for international aid to compensate for the paralysis and weakness of the Lebanese state, and the harsh and increasing expulsion of Syrian people from their land.

Read more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/opinion/lebanon-overrun-by-syrian-refugees.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/20/syrian-refugees-children-left-die

For more beautiful photos, check out the link here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2344821/Plight-Syrian-refugees-revealed-witnesses-tell-dehydrated-injured-children-dying-roadsides.html

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June 20, 2013 · 12:29 pm

We are Living in a Literal Wasteland.

While reading the papers this morning, I stumbled across a few articles that had featured a report conducted by “Environment and Development” Magazine. 

The magazine has conducted research (results of which are to be published soon) on the toxicity and cleanliness of our coastline. The study measured the fecal levels in swimming water in 19 areas along Lebanon’s coast. The results that came back were horrifying.

Apparently, our coastline is a direct extension of our toilet. That means the water that we swim in is dirty, sewage ridden water, composed of fecal matter. Results showed that our water is medically, too dangerous for us to swim in. Even more terrifyingly,

“Samples from swimming areas in Ramlet al-Baida, Antelias and Jbeil contained so many fecal coliforms laboratory scientists stopped counting;  Samples in Mina, and Sidon came back borderline toxic.”

Toxic. To boot, any bacteria or infection that a person might carry is flowing into our coastline, so you’re getting it too. These are the scientific facts slapping us in the face. This is the condition of our environment, of our coastline that we insist on being so damn proud of.  

Authorities still have the audacity to promote Lebanese Summer tourism. Just yesterday, our Minister of Tourism declared Lebanon “very safe for tourists.” (Incidentally, just yesterday, a protestor was killed for expression of difference in opinion.) 

In Lebanon, you get the rare opportunity to ski, swim, and contaminate yourself IN JUST ONE DAY!!! 

And more often that not, you, the lucky citizen, are also being forced to pay to use your contaminated coastline. The coastline which belongs to you.

How dare we continue to have our unjustified sense of supremacy when we are, literally and figuratively, swimming in our own shit? 

But for me, the worst part was that this story didn’t shake the population. It didn’t enrage people as I thought it would. In fact, aside from angry Internet rants, it almost went unnoticed.

Sometimes, I can understand the apprehension to speak up.  Nobody wants to be labelled as supporting on side or the other, and too often, we are far too apathetic to voice our concerns. I can almost understand not reacting to the extension of parliament, or to our new “foreign policy”of partaking in other people’s wars. It’s never the political stuff that shakes us to our core.

But years of leaving our ministries in the hands of the wrong people have left us basking in our own filth. And now it’s putting our health at risk. How are we still quiet, when the future looks so terrifyingly crappy?

Pun totally intended.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2013/Jun-10/219836-lebanons-beaches-swimming-with-waste.ashx#ixzz2VpZT9qkg 
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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Istanbul Fashion

Sent in by my darling Amar, straight from the Turkish straits. (See what I did there)

Gas masks as the lastest Spring/Summer 2013 accessory. Apparently everyone in Istanbul is doing it.

Image

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June 5, 2013 · 4:07 pm

Fall of Morality

Fall of Morality

Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah hand out Baklava (sweets) in celebration of Hezbollah’s victory in Qasir.

The victory is being lauded as the “fall of Qasir”, but personally, I find that this photo captures nothing other than the fall of morality (political and otherwise).

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June 5, 2013 · 2:50 pm